November 24, 2010

Cider, the perfect Thanksgiving Beverage

Cider Orchard. cider apple tree just before ha...

Image via Wikipedia

Apple cider is apple cider, right?   Wrong!

It depends where in the world you are.  In France, especially in Normandy the heart of apple country and the home of Calvados, apple cider is an alcoholic beverage similar to beer.  And if you're wondering what Calvados is, the simple answer is that it's a brandy made from apples instead of grapes. The more complicated answer requires a tour of the Normandy countryside complete with a visit to the Calvados distilleries.  And while you're there be sure to taste the French version of apple cider.  It makes a wonderful beverage for a road side picnic lunch.

But here in Massachusetts, apple cider is a non-alcoholic, or "soft" drink.  The main difference between cider and apple juice is, that the cider is unpasteurized and unfiltered or in some cases now, flash pasteurized and unfiltered.  This leaves all the wonderful and healthy bits in with the juice. Unpasteurized cider is hard to find in this day and age, but three local places to try here in central Massachusetts are Pease Orchards, New Salem Preserves and the Red Apple Farm.


Cider aficionados seek out unpasteurized cider for its authentic, unadulterated flavor and for the supposed health benefits associated with it. The unprocessed version of apple cider, contains naturally occurring yeasts which may be beneficial to your health.  Local farm stands in rural areas are your best bet for finding old fashioned authentic cider. And unfortunately this type of cider does not keep well. It will turn into apple cider vinegar upon storage as the yeast will continue to ferment.

Apple cider is a refreshing drink served cold or a wonderful winter warmer when served hot or mulled. At Clamber Hill, our favorite way to serve Apple Cider is mixed with Cranberry Juice and Orange Juice and mulled.

Clamber Hill Cider

1/2 gal of Apple Cider
1/4 gal of Cranberry Juice
1/4 gal of Orange Juice

Heat the juices and cider to a simmer (but do not boil) together with
cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Serve warm. (Note we plug in one of our 30 cup coffee makers and serve from that). Rum may be added if desired for a more European version of the beverage!

We buy our cider from Pease Orchards 978-939-5324 and New Salem Preserves 978-544-3437.  And both places will have plenty of cider this Thanksgiving weekend.  And if you want to sample the Clamber Hill Cider before trying the recipe -- just stop by our Open House on Sunday December 5th between 1 and 4 pm.

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